'Canes, Gators sit on top of BCS

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Miami and Florida moved closer to playing the biggest game yet in their long, often bitter rivalry.

The Hurricanes and Gators settled into first and second place, respectively, in the Bowl Championship Series standings released Monday.

And all indications are that if both win the rest of their games, it's on to the national championship game in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3.

Miami (10-0) and Florida (9-1) have met 50 times since 1938 -- the series is tied 25-all -- but never with the national title on the line for both teams. Last year, Miami beat Florida 37-20 in the Sugar Bowl, just a few days after players from each team duked it out in a Bourbon Street brawl.

With Nebraska and Oklahoma losing -- the Huskers were first, the Sooners third entering the Thanksgiving weekend -- the latest BCS standings underwent major changes.

Texas (10-1) jumped to third place, with Nebraska (11-1) fourth, Oregon (9-1) fifth and Tennessee (9-1) sixth.

Miami, ranked No. 1 in the AP media poll the past seven weeks, had 2.92 points in the BCS standings. Florida had 6.95 points and Texas was next at 8.77 points. The next three teams were within 1.39 points of each other -- Nebraska at 10.48 points, Oregon at 10.87 and Tennessee at 11.87.

The BCS ratings, which determine who plays in Pasadena, are based on a formula that incorporates the AP media and coaches' polls, eight computers, strength of schedule, won-lost record and bonus points for big wins.

The final BCS standings will be released Dec. 9.

''Miami and Florida are in control, it's up to them,'' said Jerry Palm, who operates a Web site that closely monitors the BCS standings. ''If one falls, then Texas and Tennessee are in the best position, but it depends on who else falls and how hard.''

Palm said Nebraska, despite its 62-36 loss to Colorado, and Oregon, which plays Oregon State on Saturday, are still in the title chase, ''but would need a series of upsets and then hope the computer works in their favor.''

Miami plays at Virginia Tech (8-2) on Saturday, while Florida plays host to Tennessee and, with a win, moves to the SEC title game Dec. 8 against the winner of Saturday's Auburn-LSU game.

The Hurricanes' 2.92-point breakdown was: 1 point for poll average, 1 point for computer average, 1.12 for strength of schedule, 0 for won-loss record and a .2 bonus point deduction for beating 14th-rated Washington 65-7 on Saturday.

The bonus award -- new this season -- is based on a sliding scale from 1.5 points for beating a first-place team down to .1 for a win over the 15th-place team. The bonus is awarded after the other elements are calculated.

Florida (6.95) had 2 points for poll average, 3.17 points for computer average, .88 for strength of schedule, 1 for won-loss record and a .1 point bonus deduction for beating 15th-rated Georgia 24-10 on Oct. 27.

Texas (8.77), which plays Colorado for the Big 12 title on Saturday, had 3 points for poll average, 3.83 for computer average, 1.84 for strength of schedule, 1 for won-loss record and a .9 bonus deduction for beating seventh-rated Colorado (9-2) earlier this season, 41-7.

Illinois was eighth in the BCS ratings, followed by Oklahoma, Stanford, Maryland, BYU, Washington State, Washington and Georgia.

Last year, Miami missed the national title game by .32 points. The Hurricanes finished third behind unbeaten Oklahoma and Florida State, which lost its only game to Miami.

For those looking for a most unusual finish the season, Palm offers this: If Oregon State beats Oregon, Texas loses, Miami loses big, Florida and Tennessee both lose, ''it could end up Colorado and Nebraska in the Rose Bowl.''



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